'This virus will be with us for a long time,' WHO director says

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About 2.5 million coronavirus cases had been reported worldwide by April 22, but we are not close to the end of the pandemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said during an April 22 media briefing.

Dr. Tedros said that though case counts appear to be stabilizing or even decreasing in Western Europe, there are worrying upward trends in other parts of the world, including Africa and Central and South America. Most countries still are in the early stages of the pandemic, and some countries that were affected early on are seeing a resurgence of cases.

"Make no mistake: We have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time," Dr. Tedros said.

Though stay-at-home orders and social-distancing measures have been successful at limiting the virus' spread, it "remains extremely dangerous," he said.

Countries must continue to focus on key public health measures to help stem the crisis, Dr. Tedros said, which include testing, tracing the contacts of those infected and isolating those who test positive for the virus.

The World Health Organization has also been tracking progress around the world. Among countries that have reported data to WHO, 78 percent have a preparedness and response plan in place; 76 percent have surveillance systems in place to detect cases; and 91 percent have laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19.

But only 48 percent of countries have an infection prevention and control program, and standards for water sanitation and hygiene in health facilities.

"In other words, there are still many gaps in the world's defenses, and no single country has everything in place," said Dr. Tedros.

WHO will continue working with countries to close the gaps and reinforce defenses against the virus, he said.

 

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